Share Budgeting and Finance Responsibilities
Make sure you're both on the same page with family finances and goals.
With many couples, there always seems to be one person who's more connected to household finances than the other. This person keeps all the bills, savings and other financial matters in order. While this may work for the short term, it's not good for a family's financial knowledge to rest with only one person.
Managing and understanding household funds should be a shared responsibility. When you both know how your finances work and where everything is, you're both equipped to handle any obstacles that arise.
Here are some suggestions for sharing household financial responsibilities.
- Talk to each other. It's important that you're both on the same page regarding saving, bills, retirement planning, etc. It doesn't help if one person cringes at credit card balances while the other thinks nothing of them. Set aside time at least quarterly to talk about finances.
- Set short- and long-term financial goals together. For example, if you want new furniture, you know you need to save a certain amount every paycheck. Same thing with retirement saving. When you plan together, you’re contributing to your dreams together.
- Know where to find your safe deposit box (and the keys) and the combination to your home safe. Document the locations of important financial papers like retirement accounts, deeds, mortgages and vehicle titles, and make sure you both know where this list is. Share a copy with your attorney or financial advisor.
- Make sure your loved ones know how to contact your accountant, attorney, banker, financial advisor, insurance agent, doctors and, if pets are involved, veterinarian.
Protect Your Important Papers
When it comes to safeguarding financial documents, you don't want them in a shoebox tucked under your bed. Here are suggestions for storing important documents and records.
- Safe deposit box: Here's where you keep records such as car titles, property deeds, business agreements, will and trust documents, a detailed home inventory and any personal documents you can’t easily replace.
- Fire-resistant home safe: Store copies of insurance policies, investment account numbers, passwords, health care power of attorney and letters explaining your final wishes in a home safe.
- Home filing system: Keep documents at least three years back for insurance payments, bank accounts, investment and retirement accounts and tax records. For tax records, the IRS publishes a list of how long to keep certain documents. (Note: As part of your home filing system, keep a "grab and go" file. If you need to quickly evacuate, you'll have readu access to documents critical to getting back on your feet – copies of insurance policies, driver's licenses, passports, etc.)
- Attorney's office: At your attorney's office, keep will and trust documents and copies of powers of attorney.
If you haven't worked together on financial information before, now is the time to start. It will make your lives easier and less stressful as you work toward common financial goals.